November 14, 2005

S.Korea, China say Japan PM shrine trip hurts Asia

By Jon Herskovitz

PUSAN, South Korea (Reuters) - Trips by Japan's prime
minister to a war shrine some say glorifies the country's
militarist past should stop because they strain ties in Asia,
the foreign ministers of China and South Korea said on Tuesday.

In a meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
forum, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and South Korean
Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon urged Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi to consider how the visits rekindled painful

"Japan's leaders should stop doing things that hurt the
feelings of the people of China and numerous Asian countries,"
Li told reporters.

"Go ask Europeans how they would feel if a German leader
paid homage to the Nazis," said Li, who has declined bilateral
talks with his Japanese counterpart at the APEC event.

Koizumi is expected to receive a chilly reception at the
APEC meeting of Pacific Rim leaders held in South Korea's
second city, Pusan, because of his trip last month to Tokyo's
Yasukuni shrine.

That visit, along with his others to Yasukuni, is seen by
China, South Korea and other countries that were victims of
Japanese past militarism as deeply offensive.

A senior South Korean Foreign Ministry official told
reporters Ban agreed with Li that the shrine visits should
stop. Ban asked Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso in a meeting
on Monday for Japanese politicians to halt their visits to

It was handshakes and smiles mixed with frank talk when Ban
met Aso. The two focused on the importance of trade and
cultural ties and vowed to mend a rift over Yasukuni and other
disputes over history.

Koizumi will meet South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on
Friday, when leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies gather for
annual talks.

Aso and Li spent time in their meetings with Ban discussing
six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons
programs. Ban asked for China's help in the talks, which ended
their most recent round last week in Beijing with key parties
Pyongyang and Washington far apart.

Although not on the official APEC agenda, the status of
international efforts to end the nuclear program of South
Korea's neighbor to the north -- and what that means for the
region's stability -- will loom large.

Five of the six parties in the North Korean nuclear talks
-- China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States --
are APEC members.

(Additional reporting by Paul Eckert)